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H is for Hawk
— —
Helen Macdonald
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald at Abbey's Bookshop,

H is for Hawk

Helen Macdonald


9780224097000

Jonathan Cape


Biography;
Wildlife: birds & birdwatching


Hardback

320 pages

$32.99
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WINNER - SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2014 ~ ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK -----  MacDonald has been obsessed with the archaic traditions of falconry since early childhood, training small falcons and generally immersed in the fellowship of falconers for many years. When her beloved father dies unexpectedly, she is overwhelmed by loss and decides to take on the greatest challenge of all - to train a goshawk. In the process of building a rapport with her hawk, MacDonald learns what it truly is to be human through her association with the wildest and largest British raptor of all.

A lyrical and beautifully crafted meditation on grief, connection, wildness and control, it is also intertwined with her re-reading of T H White's little known book The Goshawk , which details the celebrated author's attempts to train such a bird himself. White and his mistakes, his writings and outsider status, all become essential to her own attempts to make sense of what has happened in losing her father.

I can't recommend this highly enough, and any fan of the ilk of Robert MacFarlane or Roger Deacon, will appreciate this fine book. Lindy

------

'In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.'

As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T. H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

'To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next. Eventually you don't see the hawk's body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk's apprehension becomes your own. As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.'

Destined to be a classic of nature writing, H is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey - an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it's a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H. White, best known for The Once and Future King. It's a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney

By:   Helen Macdonald
Imprint:   Jonathan Cape
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 222mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   519g
ISBN:   9780224097000
ISBN 10:   0224097008
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   August 2014
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian and affiliate at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Falcon (2006) and Shaler's Fish (2001).


It just sings. I couldn't stop reading. -- Mark Haddon This beautiful book is at once heartfelt and clever in the way it mixes elegy with celebration: elegy for a father lost, celebration of a hawk found - and in the finding also a celebration of countryside, forbears of one kind and another, life-in-death. At a time of very distinguished writing about the relationship between human kind and the environment, it is immediately pre-eminent. -- Andrew Motion This is a book made from the heart that goes to the heart... It combines old and new nature and human nature with great originality. No one who has looked up to see a bird of prey cross the sky could read it and not have their life shifted. -- Tim Dee I'm convinced it's going to be an absolute classic of nature writing. -- Nick Barley Guardian Nature-writing, but not as you know it. Astounding. Bookseller One of the most eloquent accounts of bereavement you could hope to read... A grief memoir with wings. -- Caroline Sanderson Bookseller MacDonald's prose is poetic, forensic, yet often capable of quickening the pulse. Her lexicon...is vivid and joyous, soaring as freely as birds do. -- Benjamin Myers New Scientist What she has achieved is a very rare thing in literature - a completely realistic account of a human relationship with animal consciousness... It is a soaring performance and Mabel is the star. -- John Carey Sunday Times Cunningly plaited and - almost - devastating... It deserves to sell shedloads and win prizes, it is naturalist writing of that spectacular quality that is literature too. -- Angus Clarke The Times Astounding. Bookseller A soaring triumph. -- Daily Telegraph Christian House Beautiful. Sport Vivid and fascinating. -- James Attlee Independent Soars beyond genres, and burns with emotional and intellectual intensity. Nature We can't recommend this strange, clever, beautiful book highly enough. -- Jarrold's Bookshop Eastern Daily Press A soliloquy that sings from the pages. Truly beautiful. -- Rufus the Hawk Twitter Heartbreaking. Grazia Poetic, imaginative and richly persuasive prose. Macdonald's sensitivity to English weather, landscape and natural habitat is extraordinary; she is a word-painter of the subtlest palette and an audio recorder of peerless quality. Book Oxygen In fifty years time - a hundred - H is for Hawk will still defy easy definition. Readers will see wildness a little differently and they will still finish with a silent cheer for a fellow human starting to re-engage with the world. File under classic. -- Nigel Roby We Love This Book People talk about books that change your life. I loved the fact that this book does something much more valuable. It doesn't change anything. It leaves everything just where it was, only more so; more distinct, more itself. It opens your eyes. And it deepens what we have always known; that we live side by side with each other, as we do with the creatures around us. -- Laura Beatty Caught by the River


  • Long-listed for Samuel Johnson Prize 2014.
  • Short-listed for Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015 (UK)
  • Shortlisted for Costa Biography Award 2014.
  • Shortlisted for Costa Biography Award 2015.
  • Shortlisted for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014.
  • Winner of Costa Biography Award 2014.
  • Winner of Costa Biography Award 2015.
  • Winner of Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014.
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